Even though Narvaez’s expedition ended so unhappily, new attempts were made to the same countries. V. 1538 Hernando de Soto, one of Pizarro’s most prominent officers in the conquest of Peru, after amassing a considerable fortune there, received from the Spanish government the sovereignty of Cuba and permission to go to usurp Florida. Soto’s great reputation meant that the most brilliant group of knights joined his company. With ten ships, accompanied by 900 men and 350 horses, cannons, guns, bloodhounds and chains, in 1538 he sailed from the port of Seville to Cuba and from there, after a joyful celebration, across the sea to Florida. The ships were sent back to Cuba. whose administration Soto had entrusted during his absence to his wife, Pedrarias Davila’s daughter. Soto took his men ashore in June 1539 and then set out to invade the interior. There were quite a few Indian villages here and there, but the inhabitants were throughout hostile. The passage of so great a multitude was prevented by numerous stragglers. One day, the people of Soto, to their great surprise, saw a white man riding a horse in the middle of a group of Indians, who approached them with wild joy and greeted them in Spanish. He was a Spaniard named Juan Ortiz, one of Narvaez’s men, who had been captured by the Indians and twice saved from death by the chief’s daughter. During his captivity, Ortiz had learned the language of the Indians and had become acquainted with their customs; he made Soto a good interpreter. But Ortiz knew nothing of the riches supposed to be there, as the Indians had confided to Soto; his account of the real conditions greatly depressed the hikers, among whom the mood began to be depressed anyway. Soto was required to return,
The winter was spent in that bay between Florida and Alabama, in the province called Apalachee. There was plenty of food there, but other riches were looked for in vain. In the spring of 1540, Soto marched towards the north, always sending in front of him accustomed spies from the inhabitants to ask for free passage. Elsewhere, Indiani promised to guide Soto to «a distant country, ruled by a queen, where there was a lot of yellow metal. The Spaniards set off to follow him with new hopes, not realizing that the metal was just cheap copper. The queen, who was the chief of a tribe, came in a litter, dressed in all her jewels, to meet Soto. Descending from the litter, she approached the knight, welcoming him, and threw a double string of pearls around his neck. Soto bowed politely, as the courtier agreed, and pretended to be a friend. But finding that there was no gold there, he decided to rob even the pearls; he took the queen prisoner, had all the pearls put by the dead dug up from the graves of the chiefs, even stole the queen’s own expensive pearl box, which was the treasure of the whole tribe. However, the queen was able to escape and even had her pearl cap taken away with her.
Having come to the rivers that flowed towards the Atlantic, they turned westward, constantly fighting the Indians. What Indians were captured, some were killed, some were taken as slaves; those who were taken as slaves had to follow along, with chains around their necks, carrying the expedition’s goods and grinding grain in the camps.
In some areas there were well-cultivated regions, although nowhere in the same rich civilized lands as those conquered by Cortes and Pizarro. A chief, Tascaluco by name, began to guide the expedition when he received a horse from Soto; he was such a giant that when he sat on his horse, his feet dragged the ground. But Tascaluco guided his guests to a strong Indian fort, for he intended to destroy them. The castle had 80 large buildings, each said to house 1,000 men. However, the Spaniards realized the danger at the last moment, attacked the castle, broke the wooden gates with axes and set the houses on fire. Soto himself was wounded in the battle, but still led it to the end. Indian women also took part in the fight. But when the fire spread, the Indians had to flee, jumping over their equipment. The battle lasted nine hours. The Spanish lost 83 men, but the Indians lost 11,000 men. 3,000 bodies were strewn on the streets and an estimated 4,000 were killed in the fire, the treacherous chief perhaps among them.
The Spaniards were discouraged by this enmity, which was all the more hopeless to fight against, as there was no gold to be found anywhere. Most would have preferred to return home, but Soto decided to continue the trip, even though he had to constantly fight and watch out for ambushes. It was decided to spend the winter again in a larger center. Late in the fall, one night the Indians surprised the expedition and set the huts with reed roofs on fire. In the fight, 40 Spaniards fell again and, besides, half a hundred horses were lost. In the spring, we continued our trip, sometimes to the south, sometimes to the west. Probably Soto was then on the banks of the Tennessee River and came along it to the Mississippi. When the names are different from the current ones, it is difficult to get an exact explanation of the travel directions. The expedition had already lost half of its men. In alliance with an Indian chief, Soto then made a military expedition to the Mississippi River against another chief, whose capital was captured and destroyed. In these fights, Indians were first seen scalping their fallen enemies. Soto crossed the Mississippi and found fertile cultivated lands on the other side. But there he fell ill with a fever and died in the spring of 1541, at the age of 42, to the great sorrow of his people, who were very attached to him. The knight was drowned at night in a pond in Mississippi, so that the Indians would not learn of his death. According to Soto’s last wish, Luis de Alvarado got the lead. In these fights, Indians were first seen scalping their fallen enemies. Soto crossed the Mississippi and found fertile cultivated lands on the other side. But there he fell ill with a fever and died in the spring of 1541, at the age of 42, to the great sorrow of his people, who were very attached to him. The knight was drowned at night in a pond in Mississippi, so that the Indians would not learn of his death. According to Soto’s last wish, Luis de Alvarado got the lead. In these fights, Indians were first seen scalping their fallen enemies. Soto crossed the Mississippi and found fertile cultivated lands on the other side. But there he fell ill with a fever and died in the spring of 1541, at the age of 42, to the great sorrow of his people, who were very attached to him. The knight was drowned at night in a pond in Mississippi, so that the Indians would not learn of his death. According to Soto’s last wish, Luis de Alvarado got the lead. lest the Indians should learn of his death. According to Soto’s last wish, Luis de Alvarado got the lead. lest the Indians should learn of his death. According to Soto’s last wish, Luis de Alvarado got the lead.
At the beginning of July, the expedition left the Mississippi to head west, thus entering a vast steppe and then stumbled into a desolate wilderness, where even the Indian guides got lost. When the provisions ran out and the men began to tire, it was necessary to turn back to the Mississippi, even though great mountains had been seen ahead, which might at last have contained the sought-after treasures. Even by guess, the expedition had traveled as far as the eastern foreland of Kalliovuoristo. On the way back, many soldiers starved to death, winter came, food had to be obtained by constant fighting. On the banks of the Mississippi, hikers often had to spend the night with the horsemen in the saddle, the footmen knee-deep in swamp, because even dry land was not always found as a place to camp. Barefoot, clothed with animal skins — the real clothes had long ago been in tatters — the remnants of the great expedition arrived at the end of November back on the Mississippi near the place where they had crossed it in the summer. There they captured a village protected by water ditches and settled there to spend the winter. There were still 320 men and 70 horses left from the expedition. But even during the winter many men died from the consequences of the stress. Provisions of food were obtained from a friendly Indian chief near by, and thus we managed until spring, when it was decided to go along the river to the sea and then strive back to the Spanish settlements. During March and April, sturdy boats with decks at the bow and stern were built. But a huge spring flood on the Mississippi delayed the departure for several more weeks. The river began to rise on the 10th of March and in the middle of April filled its entire wide valley, so that even in the middle of May the alleys of the village inhabited by the Spaniards were under the influence of floodwater and it was not until midsummer that enough food was collected to be able to go to the river. This happened in the last days of June. In each boat were about fifty Spaniards and four Indians, who went as guides. But the tribes at the mouth of the river had received information about the departure of the strangers. They blocked the road with a thousand warships, some of which had fifty-three paddlers on each side. The soldiers were in full war paint, mostly motley black and blue, and the canoes were painted in the same colors. The Spaniards with their boats had to clear their way through this immense shoal of boats, the chase and battle lasted for ten days, and many again lost their lives. Only then could we travel further in peace. The river spread so wide that you could barely see the low banks in the middle. On the nineteenth day of the river trip, we reached the sea and continued westward along the shores. For a whole day, the sea water outside the Estuary was the salt-free water of the Mississippi. For almost two months we then sailed along the coast towards Mexico, got food by fishing, which was very fruitful, and went ashore now and then to take water. The sea trip along the shore went unexpectedly well, but in the end we were surprised by storms and heavy rains, which many times threatened to fill and sink the boats. Without sleeping, without eating, the adventurers had to exert themselves equally for another day, before they got to the same place where they could land again. In the hope that the territory of New Spain could not be far away, we then headed south towards Samoa. But after walking 70-80 kilometers, the group was so exhausted that it could not go any further. The two sprightly ones just went on scouting, walking at night, barefoot, with only sword and shield as weapons. Fortunately, they soon met an Indian, from whom they heard that a settlement called Panuco, which had been designated as the northern border of New Spain, was already nearby. The Spanish governor of Panuco kindly received his half-naked countrymen, dressed in animal skins, who looked more like savages than civilized people, and sent word of their result to the viceroy of Mexico, Mendoza.
Some of the rescued returned to Spain, forever cured of their gold fever, others stayed in Mexico, others went to Peru and some became monks. Thus broke up the last remnants of the great well-equipped expedition which Hernando de Soto had taken to explore the valley of the Mississippi. The unfortunate end of the expedition gave the whole region such a bad reputation that the Spaniards did not even try to extend their activities to that side.
Coronado excursion to Cibola and Quivira.
Already in 1530, the members of the government of Mexico had heard that in the far north there was a country with seven cities, each the size of Mexico and so rich that there were entire streets of bare jewel shops. You had to go there through the wilderness, which was a 40-day journey. This fable excited men of power to many enterprises, especially after the boundary posts of the Spanish territory on the west coast of Mexico had been driven as far as Culiacan, which is opposite the tip of Cape California, in the present state of Sinaloa. The desire to invade those fabulously rich regions got a new boost when Cabeza de Vaca and his companions assured that there were even six- and seven-story houses there, the doorjambs of which were also decorated with precious stones.
Coronado first sent to inquire a priest named Marcos de Niza, a monk, and a negro named Estebamco, who had been with de Vaca. The monk fell ill at the very beginning, but the priest and the negro, with the Indians as guides, continued on their way. The further north we traveled, the more certain the information about the rumored cities of Cibola became. Estebanico went ahead to spy, but was killed on the way. With large gifts, priest de Niza persuaded his Indian guide to accompany him even further, so that he could see the distance from a distance. He actually saw a city on the plain at the foot of a round municipality, which after a long journey through the wilderness seemed to him bigger and more beautiful than Mexico itself. He would have liked to have visited it, but he was afraid that the knowledge of the discovery would be completely lost if he was killed there. After building a stone rampart on the hill he stood on, erecting a cross on it and conquering the land in the name of the King of Spain, he set off on his return journey and happily made it back to Mexico to tell the Viceroy what he had seen. Another scouting party, which was later sent out, also confirmed the information about the seven cities as true, although it did not get nearly as far. So it’s no wonder that the Viceroy of Mexico decided that there was no truth to the rumours. He fitted out quite an expedition under Coronado to conquer that unknown treasure-land, which was like the diamond valleys of India in the descriptions of ancient Oriental fairy tales. Another scouting party, which was later sent out, also confirmed the information about the seven cities as true, although it did not get nearly as far. So it’s no wonder that the Viceroy of Mexico decided that there was no truth to the rumours. He fitted out quite an expedition under Coronado to conquer that unknown treasure-land, which was like the diamond valleys of India in the descriptions of ancient Oriental fairy tales. Another scouting party, which was later sent out, also confirmed the information about the seven cities as true, although it did not get nearly as far. So it’s no wonder that the Viceroy of Mexico decided that there was no truth to the rumours. He fitted out quite an expedition under Coronado to conquer that unknown treasure-land, which was like the diamond valleys of India in the descriptions of ancient Oriental fairy tales.
Coronado set out on an expedition in the spring of 1540, going first to Culiacan, on the Pacific side, and from there further along the sea coast towards the northwest. Two ships followed the shores, sailing along. When approaching the cape of the Gulf of California, the direction was changed to the very north and we reached the current Gila River through the desert regions, across which we traveled by rafts. Then the trip went northeast towards the southern edges of the Colorado highlands, with pine-growing highlands. across to the east and again to the north through the ravine country until Cibola was found. The whole journey had to be made on foot, because due to the desolateness of the country, a lot of food had to be carried with them, and horses were therefore needed as load carriers.
But Cibola was a huge disappointment to the adventurers. From up close, it was decided, many a country house in Mexico was more handsome than this desert village of Pahanen, which was built of stone and clay on a high cliff and could accommodate no more than 200 soldiers. With little effort, the village was conquered and the inhabitants expelled. The country was rugged, barren, the inhabitants were poor, although not without skills, because they wove cotton fabrics. There was no sign of treasures, and similar small villages were rumored to be the other six cities. Cibola was probably present-day Zuni, on the crests of the Little Colorado, which descends from the east into the Colorado. The region is currently a US territory, on the borders of Arizona and New Mexico. The city that still exists is built in steps, in the usual manner of the Pueblo Indians.
Coronado, while still at sea, had sent a small detachment under Diaz to take the message of the wig of the Gulf of California to the naval department under Alarcon. Diaz traveled to the bottom of the Gulf of California without meeting any ships. After going some distance further up the bank of the Colorado river, he found at the foot of a large tree a letter which Alarcon had left there with the information that he had returned when Coronado had not been heard from. He had gone up the river in boats as far as it could be traversed, and after waiting in vain for information from the land force, decided to return. At this place Diaz lost his life by an accident, his little force returning to Mexico by the same road by which it had come.
At Cibola, Coronado had heard that there was a large river to the north, and had sent a party of scouts to explore it; the group was led by Cardenas. This traversed the desolate Colorado highlands and arrived at the brink of an immense gorge — he had discovered the world-famous Colorado Canyon. The Spaniards looked in amazement at this infinitely great cut across the flat highlands, its abrupt walls, side gorges, inaccessible rock cones rising from the depths, and would have liked to have fetched water from the bubbling river at the bottom of the gorge, but it was not possible at any point; the walls of the gorge are mostly impassably steep and in other places almost a couple of kilometers high. For three days the scout troop wandered along the edges of the gorge looking for a place to get down to the river, but in vain. Some daredevils tried to climb down the steep mountain walls, but had to give up in the middle. They said that many rocks, which from above did not seem taller than a man, were as tall as the tower of the Cathedral of Seville from below. Cardenas returned from this invincible natural obstacle back to Cibola. He had happened to come to the grandest part of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
Another expedition, led by Alvarado, went east from Cibola. It met with several Indian villages, one very peculiar, built on a craggy sand hill. On the north side, the wind had gathered a sandbank so high that its back could almost be reached up to the village, but there was still some rock to climb from the crest of the bank. On the rock, the path ran in a deep ravine and was so narrow and steep that the Spaniards had to crawl on all fours, although there were wooden steps here and there in the ravine. All the rivers still flowed from these regions into the Tyvene Sea, or the South Sea, but a little further on, it was noticed that the water tilted towards the Atlantic Sea, or the North Sea.
The expedition then went across the head branch of the Rio Grande del Norte, which runs into the Gulf of Mexico, because the Indians had told them there was much gold and silver and large cities. It was there that a certain chief slept his supper under a great tree, which was hung full of gold strings; the tiu’uts with their sweet call woke him up when he had had enough sleep. We were now looking for this chief. But when Alvarado and his troops came to the place where the strict chief ruled, there was not a little gold there, and the teller of the tale was labeled a proud liar. The chief, however, was captured and taken to the camp at Coronado, where he was kept for six months; but the Spaniards did not get the gold after all, but on the contrary all the Indians rose up to war against them. This is how the winter was spent in the highlands, and in April 1541 we left to continue our journey to a country called Quivira, whose riches had been rumored to have similar miracles. The guide was the same Indian who had also lied about the strict commander; he had saved his life by lying that the treasure land was even further away.
The journey took us across the crests of the Pecos and Canadian rivers, and at nine days’ journey from the latter we reached the shoreless steppes, inhabited by many prairie dogs living in burrows. He had come to the land of buffaloes, about which the Spaniards had already heard miracles. They now saw this strange animal for the first time, saw it in endless herds. One day, such a large herd was scared away that the deep gorge was filled at the upstream end of the herd, and the downstream end could cross the gorge with a muscle bridge. We also met natives, hunter-Indians, but they knew nothing about precious metals, yellow and white, which were supposed to be so plentiful in their country. The guide was therefore tied up and threatened with hanging if his stories were found to be baseless. Coronado sent back the rest of his force and left with only thirty horsemen and six footmen in search of gold. There was no shortage of food, as much meat was obtained from the buffalo herds as everyone wanted, they continued the journey for six weeks and finally reached the country that the guide called Quivira. It was in about the 40th parallel, north of a great river, which must have been the present Arkansas. In the country, now Kansas, there were many rivers and streams, the soil was a strong black loam, in which grew plums similar to those in Spain, nuts, grapes, and excellent silk bushes and berries. It was a great country for the farmer, but a desolate wilderness for the gold prospectors. The inhabitants had no metal other than copper. They were brutes, living in straw and buffalo huts, wore clothes of buffalo hide, and knew no grain but corn. Coronado, disappointed and angry, hanged the guide and then erected a cross on the shore of Arkansas, on which was written a brief information about the trip. At exactly the same time, in the summer of 1541, Hernando de Soto’s expedition came up almost as far north, although a whole lot further east.
Although the guide would have been tempted to go to an even more distant country, whose name was Harahey, but Coronado had already said yes, especially as autumn was approaching. The return trip took a slightly different route, more southerly, and thus came to even more desolate regions, including the salt marshes, where the swamps had a thick crust of pure salt. Across the wilderness Llano Estacado we came to the Pecos River and the Rio Grande and followed its banks up to a large canyon where the river seemed to disappear into the earth. Coronado spent the winter in these regions, intending to make another trip to Quivira in the spring, but in a tournament with one of his companions he slipped from the saddle and injured himself so badly that nothing came of it. In April 1542, he therefore returned to Culiacan and Mexico via Cibola, the magnificent expedition little visited and ragged. The Viceroy received him very unfavorably, as he returned empty-handed. Coronado’s excellent fitness, energy and remarkable discoveries were not considered of great value, and he lost even the country lordship he had before the expedition.
Despite the fact that the first general idea of the entire southern part of North America had been obtained through these expeditions, despite the fact that the Pacific Ocean had already been sailed many times, it was still difficult for people to get over the idea that North America was not part of Asia. So Captain Castaheda thought that the Indians of Quivira must have come from Greater India, because their customs and quality of life were completely different from those of the other natives of the New World. And he thought that the country from which they had come must still have great riches; that country must have been a part of the extreme region of the East Indies, and also of that vast intervening country which extended from China almost to Norway. According to these ideas, the west coast of North America would have been connected by land with Asia, and the east coast would have gone from Florida through Greenland to near Norway. Not only were such opinions uttered among uneducated warriors, but they also made it onto maps.
On the other hand, it was just as persistently believed that there was a similar strait from sea to sea on the north side of North America as the Strait of Magalhães and it was also given the name, »Strait of Anian». Back in 1602, ships were sent from Spain to search for and capture it, before the English and French could overtake it.